since the day Arch Manning stepped foot on a high school football field as freshman Isidore Newman’s starting quarterback, the college football world had been waiting for this moment.
And so it happened in a flash.
Without warning, Manning, a five-star quarterback and the… Number 1 player in the Class of 2023announced his commitment Texas on Twitter on Thursday. Peyton and Eli Manning’s cousin made his statement after his official visit to Austin last weekend.
The timing of the decision caught much of the college football world by surprise. But the decision itself shouldn’t come as a surprise.
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Texas has been in the midst of Manning’s recruitment since last summer, when he made his first visit to Austin.
He has visited three more times since then, including his official visit last weekend and to a game last fall. Texas coach Steve Sarkisian also traveled to Louisiana last fall to watch him play and quarterbacks coach AJ Milwee visited Manning’s coach, Nelson Stewart, at Newman’s and watched him play basketball over the winter.
But Texas wasn’t the only school to travel to New Orleans to keep an eye on him or bring him in for multiple visits. Manning also visited Alabama and Georgia four times, making stops at Clemson, LSU, SMU, Virginia and Ole Miss in the past year.
Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban and Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart went to Newman to visit Stewart. Smart also saw him play last fall.
When winter turned into spring, the Longhorns were certainly on the prowl, but they weren’t the only favorite. Alabama and Georgia, at least in the eyes of the public, had at least as good odds.
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On May 24, Alabama signed a contract from four-star quarterback Eli Holstein. The decision pulled the Tide out as a top contender for Manning and the race went between Georgia and Texas.
And then, on the same weekend of Manning’s visit, his teammate and three-star tight end Will Randle committed to Texas.
Randle is Manning’s main target at Newman, as the two played flag football together and have known each other since childhood. Manning and Randle also visited Texas for a game last fall before heading to Austin for an official visit last weekend.
That series of events, combined with Sarkisian and Milwee’s persistence over the past year plus, were the driving factors leading to Thursday’s decision. But those weren’t the only reasons.
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First, Sarkisian has a strong track record in developing quarterbacks.
As the quarterbacks coach at Southern Cal, he guided Carson Palmer to become the Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft. Then, as a coach at Washington, he helped Jake Locker make a first-round pick before returning to the Trojans as coach and designing a foul that allowed Cody Kessler to have the most efficient season in school history.
Plus, Sarkisian has a lot of NFL experience. He was the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons from 2017-18 — leading an offense with the fourth-most passing yards in the league in 2018 — and the Oakland Raiders quarterbacks coach in 2004.
Manning may not be the starting Texas quarterback when the 2023 season begins. The Longhorns have already transferred Quinn Ewers, the number 1 player in the class of 2021, and former four-star recruit Hudson Card, to the state of Ohio.
But even if it’s a while before he starts a game for the Longhorns, the college football world won’t wait to see.
Koki Riley covers LSU sports for The Daily Advertiser and the USA TODAY Sports South Region. Email him at k[email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @KokiRiley.
This article originally appeared on Lafayette Daily Advertiser: Arch Manning: Texas Longhorns Football Commitment Explained